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POISONOUS PLANTS

Learn to identify poison ivy first

If you live in the northeastern US and spend any amount of time gardening, golfing, hiking, or working in the woods, there's one poisonous plant you should learn to recognize before all others: poison ivy. Sure, there may be other poisonous plants around, but this is the one we've encountered the most. Latest reports indicate that climate change is making poison ivy even more toxic.


HOW TO IDENTIFY POISON IVY
The old saying is to beware of any plant with 3 leaves that are shiny... but skip the shiny part and beware of any plant with 3 leaves! You may confuse some nonpoisonous 3-leafed plants with poison ivy, but there won't be very many. Take a close look at the poison ivy photo below and notice how the 3 leaves are grouped around the end of the stem. Learn to scout woods areas where you are golfing or hiking for this plant before walking through. 
  


"Pretty poisonous!"
This "pretty" poison ivy vine is growing
over the top of a wall at eye level

While it's usually best to look down toward the ground for poison ivy, don't forget to look up as well. Since poison ivy is actually a strong growing vine, it commonly climbs up tree trunks and may appear at eye level or much higher. To be on the safe side, take note of any tree trunks with vines on them. Older poison ivy vines tend to have a "hairy" look to them. 

 


Staying Power of the Oil

Brushing against poison ivy with your shoes or clothing will cause the toxic oil from the plant to rub off on you. The oil remains active for quite sometime and can still give you a serious rash hours later when you take off your shoes or handle your contaminated clothing. As a precaution after you've been outside, it's best to wash exposed skin areas with soap and COLD water. You can also use a commercial cleansing product such as TECNU. 


There is also Inhalation Danger with Poison Ivy

Never burn poison ivy on a brush fire since inhaling the smoke can cause serious lung problems. Another thing to remember is that just because poison ivy vines look dormant or dead, doesn't mean the oil in the stems and roots can't give you a bad case of skin rash. And finally, even though poison ivy has excellent fall leaf color, it's definitely not a cutting to bring into the house for a fall foliage centerpiece! 
   

POISON IVY

poison ivy

Watch for 3 LEAVES on this plant for identification.
  
If contacted, wash the toxic oil from your skin with soap and COLD water, or use a product we've tried called TECNU

  

Poison ivy vine

poison ivy vine in winter dormancy

Poison Ivy vines climb up tree trunks and may appear at eye level or much higher. To be on the safe side, take note of any tree trunks with vines on them. Older poison ivy vines tend to have a "hairy" look.
   
NEVER burn poison ivy -- you can inhale the toxic oil from the smoke causing serious medical problems!
  
Vines and roots are toxic (even without leaves) during winter dormancy!

 


MORE

Cornell University Poisonous Plants Informational Database

Poison Oak and Poison Ivy identification

Poinsettias poison?

      


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